Hard Drive not found at boot

A friends computer recently had some problems. It would turn on and nothing on screen, then the PSU blew up in a puff of smoke. We changed the psu and found that the Motherboard was dead. We have replaced the MB, new ram and new cpu. Now on boot up the system sits looking for the Hard drive, which it eventually does not find. On going into the bios, which takes around 3mins, and attempting to find the hard drive it still finds nothing. I have tried the HD in two other computers as slave and master. I have also tried putting the HD in a USB case, it still sees nothing. I am pretty sure it is dead, however the drive contains my friends daughters school work for her exams next month - she is distraught and so are the parents. Does anyone know of anything we could try bar sending it to a recovery expert (v.expensive). The drive is an IBM deskstar 20.5 GB (model - DTLA-305020). Thanks in advance for any assitance..
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jltariConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The only thing you can try is to find anothger IDENTICAL HD, dismount the board screwed to it, and mount it on the dead HD.
That works sometimes, when only the board is dead.
The other solution is to send the HD to ontrack (www.ontrack.com) or another company that specializes into data recovery. But, as you mentioned, this is quite expensive (could cost $1500)

Good luck.
Steve McCarthy, MCSE, MCSA, MCP x8, Network+, i-Net+, A+, CIWA, CCNA, FDLE FCIC, HIPAA Security OfficerIT Consultant, Network Engineer, Windows Network Administrator, VMware AdministratorCommented:
Pretty much if you have changed out the other bad components and put it in known good machines and the bios will not even find it, I believe you have proven the drive to be dead.  I think you are down to sending it to ontrack or another recovery place.  The only other option I might try, is to try to find a working one and swap the circuit boards.  If that is what was damaged, then you could probably get the drive working to get the data off.
It sounds as if you had a short circuit on your system which killed most of the electronics, so it is highly likely that if you can get the same disk as jltari explained the disk will again work like new. I think it shouldn't be a big problem to get a drive like that from ebay.
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Just a comment on swapping circuit cards between drives, this is far less likely to work than most people understand (sorry, I know that this is not good news in the situation at hand).

Modern hard drives have a LOT of information that is specific not just to the model of drive, but also to that particular unit.  This data is stored on the drive, some of it on reserved areas of the platters, some of it in flash memory on the drive electronics board.  This includes "platter maps" to that particular drive.  If you swap the PC boards, even from two "identical" drives, that data may be wrong, and they may be critically wrong; the bottom line is that even if the model numbers are the same, in fact there may be no such thing as two truly "identical" drives.

I'm not saying not to try it, you are kind of down to "last resort" options, but I am saying to understand the nature of what you may be dealing with, and that things are sometimes not as straightforward as they may seem.

Obviously, all of this only underscores the importance of data backup.
I don't know if that is correct, but changing the circuit board has worked in all cases for me. The biggest problem is to get another same drive! Maybe it won't work with more modern drives?
n1kAuthor Commented:
I've given the points to jltari, first come first served on this one. It seems that identical drives and swapping discs, or sending the drive off for professional recovery are the only real options in a situation like this. Of note is Watzman's comment regarding data backup - especially for irreplaceable data - it certainly made me take a close look at my files....
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